Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bad Day - UPDATED

Yesterday was another hot day, so CatMan and I decided to take an evening bike ride in lieu of riding during the hot daytime hours. We got about 7 miles from home when he got a flat. By the time we got it fixed there was barely enough time to get home before it was pitch black.

When I got home I discovered that Smoky, one of my 4 year old boys was not well.


His legs and paws were swollen to twice their normal size and he just generally looked like a sack of water.

I quickly rushed him off to the emergency vet, and the next 16 hours or so were basically filled with waiting, phone calls, trips back and forth, and seemingly every test known to veterinary medicine. Suffice it to say that Smoky is really sick and they don't know why.

He's basically got generalized edema (swelling) all over and a very low grade fever. His blood work showed low albumin (a blood protein) and that he was slightly anemic. Nothing showed up on x-rays or ultrasound.

At this point we're waiting for a few more lab tests to come back, and in the meantime they've put him on two different antibiotics on the off chance that we're dealing with some sort of tick-borne disease (which seems unlikely given the fact that he's an all indoor cat, but hey, when you're grasping at straws...)

The most frightening prospect is that he could have feline leukemia. He's been tested for it in the past and came up negative, but apparently that doesn't mean much. If he does indeed have it, then Jasper, his litter mate, is almost certainly infected too.

The irony is almost palpable. For the past nine months I've been worried sick about Sputnik (who is still soldiering on BTW), and now it turns out that my little baby Smoky is the one facing a truly dire situation, and Jasper might not be far behind. I guess you just never know.

Anyhow, I just wanted to write a quick post and let y'all know what's going on. I probably won't be around much on the interwebs for a while, but will keep you posted if I can find a moment when I'm not medicating one cat or another, talking to a vet, filling out insurance forms, trying to figure out how I'm gonna pay for treatment once the insurance runs out, or curled up in a fetal position sobbing (which is sorta what I feel like doing at the moment).

I guess this is what you sign up for when you adopt neighborhood strays, but somehow it just doesn't seem fair. Sigh.

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UPDATE

Hi Everybody. Just wanted to give you an update.

Smoky is doing MUCH better. We got the results of the FIV/FELV test back and he's negative so that's a HUGE weight off my mind. He is much less swollen this morning and has perked up quite a bit. I just went to check on him and found him lounging on his favorite perch at the top of the kitty tree, so he can't be feeling too terribly bad!

Smoky Bear. Still a bit swollen around the edges but on the mend!
It's unclear if he's responding to the antibiotics or if things are just clearing up on their own. It's probably too soon to draw any conclusions, but the fact that we're seeing improvement makes it much less likely that it's something horrible like a weird cancer or something like that. We're still waiting on lab results for the "tick panel" to confirm the theory of some sort of tick borne disease, but the other blood work showed that his anemia is most likely a kind that's caused because his bone marrow is so busy pumping out white blood cells to fight whatever's going on, that it doesn't have time to create the usual number of red ones.

At any rate, I'm feeling significantly less doom and gloom than I was yesterday, and I sincerely appreciate all of your kind words of support.

I'll keep you posted...

47 comments :

  1. I'm sending you so much love right now!

    My brother had a FELV cat, and she passed away at about a year old. It's such a horrible disease! I hope you're able to find out what's going on and are able to treat it!

    Hugs to you and the cats :)

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    1. Thanks so much. We still don't know what's up, but at least we know it's not FELV. Whew!

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  2. That sounds like a lot to deal with, and my heart goes out to you. I agree that it's not fair that someone who goes out of their way to help animals in need has to also deal with this sort of stress.

    I'm sorry, and hope you get some good news soon.

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    1. Thanks for your support. Unfortunately I think this sort of stress just goes with having animals. But I honestly don't know how people who care for big colonies of feral cats and the like can do it without becoming total basket cases!

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  3. Sending you my prayers and blessings. I just lost a young cat a few weeks ago.
    Please take care and take it each day. I am afraid that this comes with the territory of saving cats and fostering.
    Love and Hugs to you

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    1. I'm so sorry to year that you lost a young cat... it's always hard to lose them, but when they're young it's like a double whammy.

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  4. So sorry to hear that your kitty is so poorly- I hope you find out what is wrong soon, and that it is something easily treatable.

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    1. Keeping my fingers crossed that the antibiotics are gonna do the trick!

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  5. thinking of you and smoky.
    lots of scottish luv n hugs from abi and dougal cat (my rescue cat)

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    1. Smoky says thanks, and back atcha to abi and dougal cat.

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  6. Oh Cat, I'm so sorry to hear about Smoky. Its one of the worst things ever when a beloved pet is seriously ill.

    You are both in my thoughts.

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    1. Thanks Candi, I couldn't help but think of Mikko when I found him obviously retaining water. Thankfully his heart seems fine. I hope Mikko is doin' OK.

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  7. Hope you know what's wrong soon and have a clear path in front of you. Not knowing is certainly one of the worst parts of this. Sending postive thoughts your way.

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    1. You're so right about the uncertainty. I'm happy that at least some of the really horrible possibilities have been ruled out, and he does seem to be doing a bit better. Hopefully they'll get the results back from the other blood test soon and we'll have a more definitive answer.

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  8. My heart goes out to you! It is so stressful when a pet is sick and they cannot tell you what is wrong or where it hurts. I am wishing a speedy diagnosis and quick recovery for Smoky. I so hope it is not FELV!

    I understand completely about the vet bills. We have had 2.5 months of bills for the dog and one cat that seem to be tag-teaming each other with their timing of illnesses. I relate well to the wanting to curl up in a fetal position sobbing. All my best hopes to you and the cats!

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    1. Thanks Lisa, I am soooo relieved that it's not FELV. The repercussions of that would have been really hard to take on top of everything else.

      This is one of those times that I'm REALLY glad to have pet health insurance. Last night I was picturing a long drawn out treatment plan that would have easily blown past the $2500 per incident benefit on his plan, but hopefully it won't turn out that way.

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  9. I'm so sorry to hear about Smoky. I've got my fingers crossed for good news.

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    1. Thanks EK. He seems so much better today - I really hope that's a harbinger of good things to come...

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  10. Aw, your poor baby! What a gorgeous little face he has. They are just so easy to fall in love with and then they hold your heart.

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    1. He stole the hearts of the entire hospital staff. He apparently purred and kneaded the air all through his ultrasound, and snuzzled everyone who came near him.

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    2. Glad your little love-cat is on the mend!

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  11. How awful :( Does Smoky have to stay at the vet while they do more tests or is he home? I'll be thinking about you.

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    1. Thanks Amanda, He was at the hospital all day yesterday, but got to come home last night. He even sat on my lap and cuddled for a bit today.

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  12. Replies
    1. This was my thought too, but they checked him pretty thoroughly and couldn't find evidence of a bite. But... he is a great hunter of insects of every variety, and will gobble them down as soon as he catches them. So who knows what he might have come across in the basement.

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  13. I'm so pleased to hear he's looking better now. I love that second photo - "What was all the fuss about?"

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    1. Ha! I think that look actually says "Don't you dare try to cram any more of that blicky medicine down my throat!"

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  14. Well, this is something I've never come across before. Edema is humans is often connected to heart problems. I'm certainly glad the swelling has decreased. Keep us posted, especially if the vet can determine the cause of this problem. It's so hard to treat something when you have no idea what has caused it.

    Did some checking online & there are several causes and ticks or a spider bite could be one. The others most frequently mentioned are heart & kidney disease. Did the vet take x-rays? A chest x-ray could show if Smoky's heart is enlarged. Hope the root cause is found and this is something transitory instead of a disease. The fact that he has already improved is a really GOOD THING!

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    1. It's certainly a mystery. He had every specialist in the entire hospital shaking their heads because they'd never seen anything like it before. Apparently the pattern of the swelling just didn't match what they generally see in "common" conditions.

      His heart checked out fine and neither the x-ray nor ultrasound showed anything out of the ordinary. Kidney and liver enzymes were all normal too. I kept thinking that it might have been an allergic reaction of some sort, but the allergist/dermatologist looked at him and said it didn't look like any allergic response that she'd ever seen.

      We're hoping to get the results of the "tick panel" back tomorrow, but it might not be until Monday. At this point it seems to be the most likely thing, but I'm struggling to imagine how he could have gotten a tick since he hasn't been outside since the day 4 years ago when I found him & his brother as a 7 week old kittens.

      But the critical care doc said that cats' immune systems can do funny things, so I suppose it's possible that he's fighting of some other sort of infectious thing and the swelling is just secondary. At any rate, he's continuing to improve although he's still a long way from normal. I hope the antibiotics are helping...

      I'll keep you posted and thanks so much for your thoughts.

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  15. Sending good kitty-vibes your way & hoping for speedy recover & health for both of your buddies.

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    1. Thanks so much. At least we appear to be out of the crisis zone for the moment!

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    1. Thanks. He even ate this morning. Woo Hoo!

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  17. So glad that he is on the mend! A friend was telling me today about her cat who was very poorly..thankfully turned out to be an over active thyroid, which is easily treated with tablets.

    Let's hope he just did something silly like eating a spider :)

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    1. Thanks. He's doing even better this morning and almost looks normal again. Hopefully we'll get more info when the PCR test comes back, but it may end up being one of those mysterious things. I guess as long as he gets better it doesn't really matter. :-)

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  18. Thinking of you and your handsome Smoky Bear, and I hope he recovers quickly. My heart was in my throat when I read your post, and I felt a little better when you shared your update and the wonderful photo of the King of the Kitty Tree Perch. Here's hoping you got that "bad day" thing out of your system for a long time! :-)

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    1. Thanks Eliza, I fear I tend to go into the "all is lost" state far too easily. But it's hard to breathe easy when all the specialists are sorta freaking out and saying they've never seen anything like this before.

      Anyhow, he's doing even better today and is currently lounging at the top of the other kitty tree - which he bounded up with more exuberance than he's shown in a good while, so I'm feeling much more positive about everything.

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  19. I'm so glad to hear that Smoky is on the mend. They do put us through the wringer when they get ill. I'm like you, I think the worst and my husband always says "don't write the book"
    Sending good thoughts that he continues Hale and Hearty.

    Marie

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    1. Thanks Marie,

      I think I need to learn to get better at taking it day to day. Somehow I always think that if I "prepare myself for the worst" it won't hurt as much. But I don't really think that's true... I'm starting to think all it really does is prolong the suffering!

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  20. AngstriddengoddessJuly 28, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    (((kitty)))
    ((((EcoCatLady)))

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    1. Awwww... thanks for the hugs. We've both been needing some of them lately.

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  21. I read and could only wish for the best but at least from the update it seems like things are better now. So thats great! Ive only had one cat so I don't really know all the diseases or issues but seems like Feline Leukemia is something really nasty. How is that so easily passable?

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    1. Feline Leukemia is actually not very easily transmitted. It's a retrovirus that is carried in the blood and saliva. It only lives a minute or two outside of the body and transmission generally occurs from bites & scratches or mutual grooming. In Smoky's case, if he's got it, he probably got it from his mother and has been harboring it in his bone marrow ever since.

      I really hope that's not the case, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

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  22. Awe I'm sorry he wasn't feeling well but happy to hear he is doing better. It's so scary when our pets get sick isn't it? You wish they could talk to you and tell you what's going on. You feel helpless.

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    1. Oh, you said it... helpless. I mean, on some level we're all helpless all the time, this sort of thing just makes it more obvious than it generally is.

      They still don't really know what's going on, but I'm hopeful that it's something he can recover from, or at least something that can be managed.

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  23. Love the pic of Smoky in the window perch; so expressive! He is so beautiful. Very glad to hear he is doing better, and extremely relieved that feline leukemia has been ruled out. That is scary stuff. My heart goes out to you with multiple furkids with health issues - that is never easy. I remember that when they had a good day, I had a good day...and bad days were horrible for all of us. I am so glad you work from home; great for easing your mind and for monitoring the situation. Hugs to you...please keep us posted.

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    1. Thanks so much for your words of support. I'm sorta starting to feel like I'm running Cat's Home for Rare Feline Disorders here. The vets really don't know what's going on, but at least he's stable for the moment, and thank goodness he's easy to pill!

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